ROCKFORD, Ill. — Jake Chelios scored his first goal as a Griffin, Wade Megan finished the night with three points and Harri Sateri registered 29 saves all to help guide the Grand Rapids Griffins to a 3-1 win over the Rockford IceHogs at BMO Harris Bank Center on Friday.
Sitting on Elm Street in Illinois, the arena has proved difficult for the Griffins (22-13-3-4) in past meetings as the victory snapped an eight-game winless streak in the building dating back to March 25, 2017. Grand Rapids’ win over the IceHogs (16-18-3-5) puts it back in first place in the Central Division with 51 points, stationed above the second-ranked Chicago Wolves by one.
With their two-game tour of Illinois in the books, the Griffins return home to Van Andel Arena to kick off their Great Skate Winterfest event by hosting the Milwaukee Admirals at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Immediately following the game, players, coaches and staff will make their way to skate with friends and fans at Rosa Parks Circle in support of the Griffins Youth Foundation until 10 p.m. on Sunday night.
Two power play opportunities in the first period presented the IceHogs with multiple scoring chances, but it wasn’t until just after the second expired that they managed to find twine. As Sateri knocked away a shot from Rockford’s Victor Ejdsell, the puck rolled to the stick of William Pelletier on the doorstep. Pelletier quickly popped it behind Sateri’s extended right leg at 17:38, solidifying an early advantage for the IceHogs.
That one-goal lead was erased just two minutes into the middle frame when Chelios tapped in his first goal of the season. To the left of the IceHogs’ goaltender Kevin Lankinen, Megan battled for possession of the puck off a faceoff and sent it to Chelios above the left-wing circle. With a quick wrist shot, Chelios lofted the puck over Lankinen’s left shoulder, evening the score.
Megan notched his second point of the night with the game-winning goal at 10:33 of the third period. As Matthew Ford cleared the puck from behind Lankinen’s net, Matt Puempel picked it up and lobbed it over to Megan near the right-wing circle. From there, Megan buried it to give the Griffins their first lead of the game.
A late interference penalty to Grand Rapids gave Rockford one final power play of the night with 8:31 left in regulation. Despite the IceHogs’ attempts to tie the game, Sateri and the Griffins’ penalty kill unit remained stalwart as they advanced to a 3-for-3 finish on the night.
After the IceHogs pulled Lankinen for an extra attacker in the waning moments of the game, Megan tacked on his third point of the night. Chelios knocked the puck away from Rockford attackers in Grand Rapids’ zone and Colin Campbell collected it, sending it to Megan. With three seconds left, Megan hit the empty net to clinch the Griffins’ 3-1 win.
Notes: Lankinen finished the night with 21 saves...Rockford outshot Grand Rapids 30-24...In their most recent matchup on New Year’s Eve at Van Andel Arena, the Griffins snapped a three-game winless streak (0-1-2-0) against Rockford with a 2-1 victory as Joe Hicketts tallied the game-winning goal with 4:44 remaining in regulation and Sateri made 31 saves...Chelios recorded his first point at Rockford on April 18, 2014.
Three Stars: 1. GRG Megan (two goals, assist); 2. GRG Sateri (W, 29 saves); 3. RFD Pelletier (goal)
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